I know this is going to come as an enormous shock to you all, but raising kids is a lot of work. Like the hardest work. These little people you created come out and immediately require you set most of your wants and desires on the back burner to just keep them alive. Add in a culture that lives life through the perfection of social media, the inability to listen well, and a tendency to be isolated while still having deep knowledge of how everyone else is doing all the things right, parenting can suck. As I write this I realize I often make parenting look like a terrible form of torture in the beginning of all my blogs. sorry. not sorry.
I was reading a book recently and the author brought up the idea of bonus parents. The idea is that families do this raising kids thing together. On the day when one mom is sinking under the pressure of daily life the bonus parent swoops in with some kind of relief, whether it be taking the kids for a few hours, bringing (buying) dinner, or just coming over to get in the trenches. She also described how, in her life, it meant that she felt comfortable having the bonus parent "parent" her kid while she wasn't there. She felt confident that her bonus parent loved her child like her own and in turn could discipline them as her own. It also allows for a village of people to celebrate when big life things happen and to support you when life gets hard. I read this a while back and let it sit for a bit. My conclusion. GENIUS!!!!
Now, in our day and age I think these kind of relationships can be hard to find. It's hard to be transparent with people. This means you have to let them see your good, bad and ugly and you get to see theirs. A lot of times this can result in some serious pain. People are hard. People hurt you. People think of themselves over others. Finding the bonus parents is the hardest part, but I don't think God intended for us to do this part of the life journey alone and isolated. In my life I've been blessed with a couple relationships that have stood the test of time. One in particular I've had since I was 13. I've done more life with her than I've done with my husband. At this point we're stuck with each other...we've done too much life together to throw it away. I'm so grateful for this. I know that I can be an utter butt head to her and she won't ditch me, she might have a few choice words for me, but she'll still be there. As a result our husbands are now super close and living life together is just a thing. Our kids think they are cousins and are shocked when we even try to argue that we, in fact, are in no way related.
Here is the thing. In order to do this, you have to be intentional. Like I said being friends with people is work. In a culture where receiving correction or even having a different opinion then someone else usually means you will be berated, being honest and transparent can be terrifying. It can also be life giving. Here is the hard part. It's hard for me to hear others correct my kids, I mean, I know they are jerks, but I don't really need someone else to tell me that. It's hard for me to have friends, even when they are coming in love, tell me my child is struggling with something. But here is the thing, I can send my kids to a handful (my village) of friends houses and know they will be loved, they will be corrected when needed, they will be fed (maybe), and hopefully, as they get older, if things come up that my kids don't feel comfortable coming to me with, they can go to their bonus parent for council. What a relief to know Clay and I are not in this thing alone.
Also, be honest. For example, we don't spank, so, if my kid is hanging at their bonus parent's house I would expect they wouldn't spank my kid either....this is where living life together helps because you just know how your friend parents. Honestly, thats probable why you work as friends...you kind of do things the same.
So, mommas, take heart. Be intentional, be transparent, open your heart, be brave, be patient, allow others in and be real....find that bonus parent (or parents) you can do life with and find joy and rest in it. Also, it really helps if they love wine. Just saying.